Defining Salafi-Jihadism

You are already well familiar with Salafi jihadist organizations. ISIS (or Daesh) is one example. Al Qaeda is another. Salafi jihadism is an ideology, a belief. The Rand Corporation offers us the following definition,

“Salafism is a heterogenous Islamist movement that ‘believes in progress through regression, where the perfect life is [realized] by reviving the Islam of the first three generations’ of the umma.” 
Furthermore, they define Salafis as “ultra-conservative Islamists engaging in sociopolitical acts that emphasize the hyper-unity of the early umma, absolute monotheism (tawhid), and rejection of alternative Islamic views (bid’a).” Salafi jihadis take up arms to impose their ideology on the rest of the world. These are the bad guys.


ISIS is still active in Syria. They have recently increased the frequency of their attacks in the central region of that nation after showing a decrease in activity in January. In western-central Syria, they have been targeting truffle harvesters and local shepherds. Closer to the Euphrates, they seek our military targets. Why truffles and sheep? They slaughter stolen sheep by the hundreds to feed their hungry troops. Truffles are worth a lot of money, a kind of fungal currency if you will. In the Syrian city of Hama, ISIS sells their ill-gotten gains for up to $11 per pound and uses the funds to further terrorist activity.

ISIS activity in the Central Syrian Desert. Image courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War and the Critical Threats Project.



The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports that the Somali Federal Government, or SFG, has eyes toward a significant offensive against the terrorist group al-Shabaab in the near future. In recent weeks the African nation has received an influx of funding from international sources.

The Somalis will not undertake the offensive alone. On March 2nd, the Somali national security advisor publicly announced that Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti would send troops to support a “search and destroy” mission. They will fall under the command of local security forces and should be in place in the next couple of months.

The US will also be playing a role, sending over 60 tons of weapons and ammunition to US-trained Danab special forces, a highly trained Somali Army commando group. The Danab, or “Lightening” Brigade, was formed in 2014 as a counter-terrorism combat task force specifically to take on the Islamic militants of al-Shabab, who seek to overthrow the legitimate Somali government. Sources indicate they are funded almost entirely by the United States government.

According to the Pulitzer Prize Center, US funding for Danab was first done through the State Department. It was used to pay for the services of a private military contractor (PMC) named Bancroft Global Development. Bancroft set up Danab and has been training and advising the elite unit for the past several years. I might note that many Bancroft personnel are not Americans. Quite a few are British and South African members who are not bound by the same rules of engagement (ROE) as US military members.

A long way from home. US Army Specialist Christopher Andres, a soldier assigned to Task Force Guardian, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), 1-186th Infantry Battalion, Oregon National Guard, provides security for a 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (EAS) C-130J Super Hercules during unloading and loading operations in Somalia. Date: February 6th, 2020 Photo by US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano


The Islamic State Khorasan Province militants (ISKP), a sort of regional affiliate of ISIS, have been ramping up their attacks on civilians associated with the local Taliban government. On March 8th, they assassinated the head of the Herat municipal water supply, a relatively low-level public official. They typically set their sights on higher-ranking Taliban officials, Taliban soldiers, or religious minorities that they find distasteful. Things got ugly on March 5th when the ISKP released a statement condemning the Taliban’s killing of women and children in recent anti-ISKP raids. In the statement, they threatened to start killing Taliban family members.